So you may be wondering where the Perky Pancake has been for the last couple of weeks (apologies for the radio silence!). Well, the Perky Pancake has been on tour. Donning her beret and transforming into her French alter ego, the Perky Crepe (!), she has been eating her way around Provence. What a great 2 weeks!
Two weeks spent visiting beautiful villages, sampling local produce, cooking, eating out and a bit of hiking to try to burn off some off that cheese. The weekly markets in Provence are the key attraction for me. The perfect time to see the villages and towns at their best and also to pick up yummy ingredients. Vaison-de-la-Romaine, Eygalieres, Saint-Remy-de-Provence, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, and Coustellet were real highlights. I have put together some photos from the trip here for you to have a peek at.
But back to reality now though. It seems that since I left, autumn has truly arrived in the UK. But with memories of sunny France still at the forefront of my mind, I want to share two last summery recipes with you before we hunker down into autumn. The first is an onion and goats cheese tart and the other, to follow later this week, is gazpacho.
The inspiration for the onion tart came from the perfectly formed, no peel, white onions in the markets we visited.
They are incredibly sweet when cooked until caramelised and make a great filling for a tart. You can use standard brown onions in the UK and add a little sugar towards the end of the process to achieve the same result. It will seem like the recipe calls for a lot of onions but they melt down during the cooking.
This makes a great lunch served with a salad and some bread. Bon appetit!
Onion and Goats Cheese Tart
2 tablespoons olive oil
Good knob of butter (about 2 tablespoons)
1.25 kg onions, peeled, halved and sliced about 3mm thick
2 teaspoons caster sugar
200ml whole milk
100g goats cheese, cut into 1/2cm thick slices
350g shortcrust pastry
You also need a 25cm fluted tart/flan tin, greased with a little olive oil – if your tin is a little bigger/smaller don’t worry; you’ll just end up with a thinner/thicker tart as a result (just keep an eye on the cooking…a thinner tart will need less than the 35-45 minutes specified below).
1. Preheat the oven to 200°c/180°c fan.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then to prevent sticking/burning. They should be sizzling gently.
3. Take a piece of greaseproof paper about 20cm long and scrunch it up. Run it under water and place on top of your onions (this is your cartouche). Put the lid on and cook the onions for a further 15 minutes until they are soft and glassy. If there is excess liquid in your pot, remove the lid and cartouche, turn the heat up to high and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are dry.
4. Add the sugar and cook for a further 10-15 minutes on a high heat, until they start to caramelise and start to brown slightly.
5. Whilst the onions are cooking, prepare the pastry. Roll out the pastry to fit the tart tin, prick the base with a fork and trim any excess from the sides. Line with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Place on a baking tray and put in the oven for 15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove the baking paper and beans and cook for a further 5 minutes so the base is dry.
6. Lightly beat the eggs and mix with the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the onions over the pastry base and then pour in the egg and milk mix. Arrange the goats cheese slices on top.
7. Place the tart in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and the filling is set.
The tart is best eaten immediately, warm from the oven, but it will keep in the fridge for a day or so though you do risk a getting a soggy bottom!